Deborah Coddington runs her eye over the parliamentary stable:
Helen Clark is obviously the old bay mare. For years, she’s delivered a stellar performance, occasionally stumbling but quickly finding her feet. She’s bossy.
Like the grey mare, Trixie, I rode along the south Wairarapa coast last week, Clark must be at the front of the pack or she gets snappy, laying her ears back and kicking or biting the other horses.
When things go her way she walks out briskly, interested in her surroundings, a great ride.
But start going downhill, or let other horses get in front, and she pig-roots – a minor form of bucking – tosses her head and turns caustic.
John Key’s unproven as station hack, eventer or showjumper, but is worth persevering with.
A vet check would return positive recommendations – he’s sound and has never foundered . . .
Key’s always well turned-out, has pleasing paces, and given time and challenges, could become a winner.
Winston Peters is the show pony who delivers on promises.
Beautifully groomed; mane and tail shampooed, brushed, then plaited for extra points, he’s charisma on fetlocks. With his coat gleaming, hooves blackened, saddle and bridle clean and supple, he dances into the ring rolling his eyes, playing to the crowd, certain he’s going to scoop the prizes despite most judges writing him off at each new gymkhana.
But just when this crowd pleaser’s on track for the rosette, as Bob Harvey said of his performance as Labour president, the show pony shat in the parade ring.
The powerful, thrillingly scary, rearing, snorting and occasionally uncontrollable stallion has to be Hone Harawira.
Nobody expected this steed to grow from the shaggy, station-bred, desperado he once was, into the impressive black National Bank lookalike he’s become. . .
. . . With Peter Dunne, the name says it all – a reliable, bombproof dun gelding trusted with your granny or the fearful kiddie who’s never visited a farm. Good in traffic, easy to float and shoe, often underrated, you’d be surprised how valuable these old faithfuls really are.
Rodney Hide’s like the little teaser stallion – a pint-sized troublemaker useful for egging on the mares (literally); a loner who entertains everyone, but must remain over the fence, plotting and alone in his paddock, maybe a donkey for company, lest he sully the popularity of the winning herd.
Peters might be a crowd pleaser but if he doesn’t do better than the polls he’s bound for the electoral knackers yard; and win or lose Clark will be searching for fresh pastures before the end of the next parliamentary term.